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State Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, plans to introduce legislation in the state House of Representatives that would allow the attorney general, Senate president pro tempore or speaker of the House to appoint independent counsel to begin an investigation into corruption allegations against state lawmakers.

Grove said he’s “tired of hearing corruption and Pennsylvania in the same sentence.”

The independent counsel would have 90 days to complete the preliminary investigation and make a report to a five-judge panel. Four of the five judges must then agree that further investigation is necessary for the inquiry to proceed.

Grove said his legislation would, in effect, place a permanent watchdog on the General Assembly and state government.

“By adding the trigger points and expanding the scope of crimes, I hope to create a system of checks and balances which makes it beyond uncomfortable for any person in elected or appointed offices to even think about being unethical,” Grove said.

Since 2007, 15 lawmakers have been charged with some form of corruption. Eleven have been convicted, most for conducting political campaigning on state time.

Just last month, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office found that four state lawmakers had accepted cash from a lobbyist. Attorney General Kathleen Kane declined to prosecute, blaming shoddy investigative work.

— John L. Kennedy, for the Law Weekly